AC: Bush43 Daily Week Three

Jason Kenney jasonkenney at
Mon Jun 19 10:07:51 PDT 2006

Artifice Comics -

Check out our brand spankin' new releases over at the Artifice website.
Yeah, a new issue of The Inevitable and an Anthology Two tale
concerning Millennium Man await. Go. You'll like them. Unless you don't
like good stuff.

Now, Bush43 Daily week three begins!


BUSH43 #30
By Jason S. Kenney


The red carpet treatment was not something I expected.

We pulled up in front of the PC Hilton, and someone immediately opened
the door. I stepped out and straightened my coat, as I took a quick
look around and winced at the sight of cameras and people.

I turned and took Cassandra's hand and helped her from the car.

"You'll be fine," she said, as she stood up next to me and smiled wide,
looking to the people waiting for us to move.

"Sure, I will," I said through a clenched smile. "Can we just sprint
through this, or would that be bad taste?"

"Just smile and walk; you don't have to stop," she said, as she weaved
one arm through mine.

"Good, 'cause I'm not gonna."

And, we didn't. A few people hollered out, called me by name, called
Cassandra by name, and we smiled and nodded. She waived to a couple
people, but we just kept going.

The doors opened wide for us, as we approached, and in we went.

Out of the frying pan.

"Mister Carter," said an unfamiliar man, as he approached me from the
other side of the room with a large smile and an outstretched hand. "So
happy to see that you came," Trice said, as he took my hand and shook
it firmly. "Robert Trice."

"Head of the PC Business Association?" I asked, and his smiled widened
slightly at the recognition.

"Guilty as charged. Miss Trellis," said Trice, as he turned to Cass and
took her hand, bending low to kiss it. "Always a pleasure."

"Likewise, Mister Trice."

"Going up?" Trice said with a chuckle, gesturing to the elevators.

I nodded and smiled to Trice, and he fell in beside me, as we all

"My wife's a big fan of yours, Mister Carter," Trice said, as he
slapped me on the shoulder, as he draped his arm around them.

"A fan?"

"She likes your American accent," he said, as the elevator doors
opened, and he stopped to let us step inside, following behind. "It's
unfortunate for her that she couldn't make it tonight."

"Well, we'll have to schedule something for later then, Mister Trice,"
I said. "It would be good for City Hall to strengthen its relationship
with city businesses, and what better way than to butter up the head of
the business association?"

"Too true," said Trice with a laugh. He reached inside his coat and
came out with a business card, holding it out to me.

"I'm afraid I forgot to bring my card," I said as I took his. "But, I
should be easy enough to find. Big building on Main and all."

I smiled, as Trice laughed and again slapped me on the back.

"I like you, Mister Carter," he said, the elevator stopping and
opening. "We will definitely have to do lunch in the very near future."

"I'm looking forward to it," I said with a nod, as Cassandra stepped
off the elevator, and I followed.

"I will be sure to catch you again before the night is over," he said
with a waive, and the elevator closed.

"Is he the greeter or something?" I asked Cassandra, as I turned to
face the room while tucking Trice's business card in my coat's inside

"He is," she said, snaking her arm through one of mine. "You did very

"He was a large man, Cass," I said. "I wasn't about to be rude to him."

She laughed, as we both took in the crowd.

Good Lord, I wasn't ready for this.

"Would you like to meet my father first?" Cass asked, as we started to
walk deeper into the room, deeper into the prying eyes and the
attention of people I would rather not associate with.

The place reeked of money.

The place reeked of superiority complexes.

"I think I'm having second thoughts," I said with a smirk and Cass
squeezed my arm.

"Well, you're not getting out of this," she said, as we approached a
small group of people talking, those facing us taking notice and
pausing, causing the others to turn.

"Hello, father," Cassandra said to the gentleman who had had his back
to us.

He was taller than I expected, a good half a head taller than me, and
she had to stretch her neck to give him a peck on the cheek. His smile
was warm and contradicted his build, his broad shoulders, the sharpness
of his dark eyes.

"Allow me to introduce Jeffery Carter," she said, gesturing to me.
"Jeffery, this is my father, Oliver Trellis."

His eyes locked onto mine, and I registered their confidence, the lack
of any need to size me up. He knew where he stood.

"Mister Carter," he said, as he firmly grasped my extended hand and
shook it.

I returned the firmness, but not too much, just enough to hold my own.
I wasn't about to get into one of those pissing contests, but I wasn't
about to back out of a firm shake either.

"Mister Trellis," I said with a nod. "A pleasure to meet you, sir."

"Believe me, Mister Carter, the pleasure is mine. As I'm sure it is for
these gentlemen as well," Trellis said, gesturing to the group he had
been speaking to. "Theodore Longerbeam here is a member of the board
for Pacific City First Bank and Trust. And, this is his wife

Longerbeam was a large man in the exact opposite way that Trellis was.
Short and round, he reminded me of Commissioner Barry Jordan, only less

"Mister Longerbeam," I said with a nod, as we shook hands.

"Mister Carter, how nice it is to finally see someone from City Hall
show an interest in Pacific City's businesses."

"Well, I'm sure we can forgive the Mayor for concerning himself with
ensuring the safety of the city's people before turning his efforts
towards its businesses." I turned my attention to his wife before he
could retort. "Missus Longerbeam, I must say it is a great honor to
meet such a stunning woman."

I bent and kissed the back of her hand, hoping my sarcasm wasn't
showing, hoping I could find a way to get out of this godawful event
before too long.

"Charmed," she said with a practiced grin.

"Grace Masters," continued Trellis, as he gestured to a truly amazing
looking blonde whose mere presence uttered her first name, "is the
heiress to Masters Design."

"Miss Masters," I said, as she held out her hand for a limp shake.

"Please, Mister Carter, call me Grace."

"Likewise," I said with a smile. "Though I'd rather be called Jeffery,
I'd answer to Grace as well."

And, they laughed at that. As lame as it was, they found it humorous in
a very fake, stuffy laugh sort of way.

"This is my husband, Gregory Robinson," Masters said, as the gentleman
next to her simply nodded at me, never offering his hand.

"Of Craig, Thomasm and Robinson?" I asked and he nodded again. I
chuckled slightly and shook my head. "I suppose there's little chance I
could convince you to drop the maintenance workers' litigation, eh?"

"No chance, Mister Carter," said Robinson. "Unless you're willing to
grant their demands."

"That decision is in the Mayor's hands," I said with a shrug. "But, I'd
certainly be willing to look into the matter and see if my opinion

"If you all don't mind," said Trellis, as he wrapped one big arm around
my shoulders, his other around Cassandra's waist. "I'm going to have to
borrow our friend here for a few moments and give him the

"It was a pleasure meeting you all," I said, and they responded, as
Trellis turned me away from them and started walking with them.

"Cassandra, dear," he said. "Have you impressed on Mister Carter how
utterly useless it is to actually talk to these people?"

"He seems to feel the need to be utterly polite and professional,"
Cassandra said, and her father shook his head and stopped, released her
waist, and stepped in front of me, both hands on my shoulders.

"Jeffery, a bit of advice," Trellis said. "These people are not
listening to you. Do not try and convince them of your way of thinking.
Simply smile and nod as they speak and refuse to commit on any issue
unless it is the legitimacy of your birth."

I laughed and nodded.

"I'm afraid I may have to do a bit more than that, sir."

"Second bit of advice," Trellis said, as he halted a server with a tray
of drinks and removed one for Cassandra and then handed me one before
taking one for himself and thanking the server verbally and
financially. "There are no 'sirs' in this room other than yourself. You
are better than them. Make them know it."

"I do have a particular pretense to keep..."

"Not with these people, Jeffery," Trellis said. "You have what they
want, the keys to the city. Make them beg for it."

I shook my head with a grin.

"Cassandra," he said, as he stepped aside and pulled Cass in front of
me. "You keep working on him. I have to go placate a little more. Take
care of yourself, Jeffery, and take care of them," he said, pointing at
the crowd behind me.

He kissed Cassandra on the cheek and whispered something foreign in her
ear before breaking away.

"I think he likes you," Cass said with a smile, and I again shook my

"What was that he spoke before he left? Mandarin?"

"Cantonese," Cassandra corrected with an arc of her eyebrows. I guess
she was impressed at how close I was. "Our family is from Hong Kong."

I nodded.

"And, here I thought you were rebelling against your family with your
radical thoughts."

"They're pretty consistent through the generations," she said, taking a
sip of her drink.

"So," I said, looking around the room again, as I turned and stood next
to her. "Are we having fun yet?"

"The party's just getting started," Cass said, as she looped her arm
through mine and started walking with me toward another group of


"So, the rumors are true," said Tina Wilson, as she stepped toward us
with a smirk.

"Unfortunately so," said Cassandra, glancing to me with a big smile and
laughing, as she turned back to Tina. "You two already know each other,
I'm sure."

"Anything you'd like to grill me about tonight, Miss Wilson?" I asked,
as she I shook her extended hand.

"I'm taking the night off, Mister Carter, so you get a break."

"If you both will excuse me," Cassandra said, suddenly breaking away.
"I'll be right back."

And, she gave be the biggest grin, as she stranded me with Tina Wilson.

"She did that on purpose," I said, shaking my head and taking a sip of
my drink.

"She did," Tina said. "So, I've got something up my ass, do I?"

I nearly choked on my drink.

"She ratted me out, huh?"

"She didn't have to," Tina said with a smirk. "You're quite the open
book when it comes to your opinion of the media."

"Just trying to do my job, Miss Wilson."

"As am I, Mister Carter. I'm not about to cut you some slack because
you're sleeping with a Globe employee."

"I'm not asking for any special favors," I said. "I'm just hoping for a
fair shake."

"Once City Hall starts giving this city a fair shake, maybe I'll give
you one."

"Is that an admission of bias?"


I smirked, as we both drank.

"Just the same, you look lovely this evening," I said.

"If you think flattery's going to help..."

I cut her off with a laugh.

"I can't win, can I?"

She let her smirk be her answer.

"How do you think Mister Turner over there is going to take our
talking?" I asked, as I pointed to Peter Turner from the Bristol Star
over her shoulder and across the room.

She turned to see him staring right at us, me in particular, his glare
almost laughable.

"Not only do I show up to this thing with one PC Globe employee," I
said, as I stepped up next to Tina. "But, then I end up having a lovely
conversation with another. Folks are going to start thinking the Globe
loves City Hall."

"No one cares what Peter Turner thinks," Tina said.

"I do. It was lovely chatting with you, Miss Wilson. I'll see you at
Monday's morning briefing I suppose."

I smirked and nodded before stepping away from her and going straight
for Turner.

"What do you want, Carter?" he asked before I was even six feet away
from him, stuffing his face with some shrimp thing he grabbed off a
passing tray.

"I thought I'd stop by and say hello," I said, setting my now empty
glass on another passing tray.

"Well, you've said it," Turner said, his eyes looking around the room,
avoiding mine.

I stepped up beside him and turned to look over the room as well. He
looked to me for a moment, as he backed away, trying to figure me out,
I suppose.

"So, where should I start, Petey?" I asked.


"Well, you're the gossip columnist," I said. "I'm sorry, POLITICAL
gossip columnist, and seeing as how I'm fairly new at this, I thought
maybe you could give me a quick who's who of the room and get me
started off right."

"Can't your arm candy do that for you?"

"She could, but I figure you're the man in the know."

"Well, Mister Carter," Turner said, grabbing something else to eat off
of another passing tray.

"Call me Jeffery."

"Mister Carter," he said with a bit of emphasis. "Take your pick. Just
about everyone here is worthwhile, all have a very low opinion of you,
an even lower opinion of City Hall, and each and every single one of
them are probably very eager to have you ear for whatever pet project
they have in mind."

"As much as they might not like me or City Hall, they want to talk to

"They don't like you or City Hall because they can't talk to you."

"Well, thanks for your time, Pete," I said, as I turned to him and held
out my hand for a shake. "I appreciate the tip."

"Break a leg," he said, ignoring my hand that I pulled back.

"Literally, right?"

He looked me dead in the eyes.

"One can hope."


"Jeffery, this is Richard Daggon, CEO of Burke Enterprises."

I resisted the urge to crush his hand.

"Richard, Jeffery Carter."

"From the Mayor's Office?" asked Daggon, his fake smile widening. I
nodded. "Well, Mister Carter, it is a pleasure to meet you."

"And you, Mister Daggon," I forced myself to say.

"I hope that City Hall and Burke Enterprises are able to keep their
close working relationship, despite the change in management."

"That decision ultimately lies with the Mayor," I said. "But, I don't
see why things should change because of some in-house issues on your
end. After all, Burke Enterprises took City Hall's change in leadership
in stride."

"Fair enough, Mister Carter, and very reassuring. Especially given your
personal relationship with Miss Burke." Do what? "Though, given that it
does seem to be past relationship," he said, looking to Cass and then
back to me, that damn fake smile gleaming, "perhaps my concern was

A feminine hand came over Daggon's shoulder, and he turned to look at
and reveal its source.

Oh, no.

"Mister Carter, Cassandra, let me introduce my fiancee, Emma

My stomach flared, pain wracking my body, as all too familiar green
eyes locked with mine, Emma's hand slowly, hesitantly coming out for me
to receive, limp, palm down, as if I was expected to kiss the back of

"A pleasure, Miss Randolph," I said after swallowing hard, following
through with the formalities of kissing her hand.

"Is it, Mister Carter?" she said, a smirk, a wicked gleam in her eyes.
"I must say that you are looking in much better spirits than when we
last met."

"You two have met before?" asked Daggon, a delightful surprise in his

"Yes," I said. "Though the circumstances were less than ideal."

"For some," said Emma, a full smile now on her face. "Miss Trellis,"
she said, finally letting my hand go, shaking Cass'. "I hope you
realize the handful you've got with Mister Carter here." She had looked
to Cass but locked eyes with me again with the end of her sentence. I
noticed Cass glance to me out of the corner of my eyes, but I did not
look away from Emma.

"If he gets to be too much," she continued. "I recommend you go for the

"With your gut," Daggon tried to correct, completely oblivious to the
conversation as a whole, let alone the undertone.

"Of course, dear," Emma said, lacing her arm through her fiance's.
"Lewis Adder was looking for you a moment ago," she said, as she looked
to him.

"Well then, let's not keep him waiting. Mister Carter," Daggon snatched
my hand. "A pleasure to meet you. I look forward to a strong working
relationship with City Hall in the future. Cassandra," he said, turning
to her, Emma locking eyes with me again, smiling, daring me, taunting

I missed what Daggon said to Cass.

"Do take care of yourself, Jeffery," said Emma.

"Likewise, Miss Randolph," I said, giving her a short nod.

I stared at her, as she and Daggon turned and walked away.



And, my stomach roared.

"Murderer," I hissed through clenched teeth.


Cassandra's hand gently touched my cheek, bringing me back, the tone in
her voice telling me it wasn't the first time she'd said my name, but
she wasn't angry. No. Concerned.

"I need some air," I said, still staring at the back of Emma's head.

That's when the window's exploded.

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